Within the first week of moving back to campus, I’ve been spending almost all my time with my friends, going to events, settling into my new dorm, doing work for student orgs, or just getting caught up in the day-to-day functions of sleeping, showering, working out, etc. I had forgotten how all-consuming my life in college is compared to the slow, steady work habits I’d developed over the summer at home. More than anything, I was stunned and frustrated when I realized that, after spending two hours tweaking and perfecting my semester’s Google calendar, I would have very little time for my own personal endeavors: for my writing, reading, and all the creative work I love and need to do.
In years past, I’ve completely relinquished my own creative passions and pursued my schooling with a crazed fervor. During the academic year, nothing mattered to me except class, work, and deadlines. I remember waking up at 2 am in high school to study for AP Chemistry (the class bulldozed me, to say the least) and spent my free time creating lessons plans for the Islamic Studies program I worked at. If I did create or consume, it was just either therapeutic or for a class– not real, substantial work that tested the limits of my imagination. But coming to Michigan has made me realize that though this academic religiousness is certainly well-intentioned, it cannot possibly be an end in itself. I have to take what I’ve learned and do something with it, to create, to live– for various people, this can mean different things, but for me, it means to write.
But there’s a problem. I have no time to write. Between classes and evening e-board meetings and hitting the gym and hanging out with friends and studying, there is very little left in my schedule that I can truly say belongs to me. How do I find time to create in this busy, big, bustling world? I am reading Aristotle, Dickinson, the earliest greatest novels and the works of contemporary geniuses, scouring textbooks and poetry alike– but where do I find myself? Where am I in this cosmic narrative? How do I write myself in?
I’ve been obsessing over this question. How do I write myself in. Surely, I can’t do this year what I’ve always done, which was to sell myself away during the school year and win myself back for creative pursuits in the summer. I can’t expect to be a good writer and write only three out of twelve months in the year. More than anything, I don’t want to mindlessly drift through my life, desperately trying to find my last bit of control and individuality that has been buried beneath my other commitments.
So I looked at my calendar. Then I looked at it again. And again (I’m still looking at it now, in fact). I think I’ll try to sneak an hour or two of work before I leave for class in the morning, and maybe thirty minutes of reading before I go to bed at night. It’s not the perfect plan, but I think that it’s possible.
Passions, I think, are not possessed by rare and ingenious people. People are not born with passion. We create it. We nurture it, like a small child, or a plant, or any other living, breathing thing; it needs care, it needs to be protected, and it needs to be given space and time. We all care about things. But how much? That’s what separates a creator from a consumer. It’s not our talent or our passions that matter. It was never about that. It’s how much we’re willing to fight for them.
And if fighting means making a little bit more time on my Google calendar before and after bed, then so be it. I guess I’m on the battlefield. Bring it on.